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15 Cards in this Set

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Why do some think that a purely personal understanding of self-fulfillment is antithetical to any strong commitment to a community?
Page 43
When one thinks of self-fulfillment with a purely personal understanding, they view their relationships and communities as instrumental, as a means to their own end. These relationships and community ties become secondary to a person’s own realization of authenticity. One would not think about the community as a whole, but on the lines of direct benefit for the individual.
What are two modes of social existence which are linked with the contemporary culture of self-fulfillment?
Page 45
Soft relativism defines the first model of society, where everyone has the universal right to be themselves without criticism. Our rights are given to us as long as they do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights. The second way requires intimate, love relationships with others in order to recognize our own identity. Our identity require recognition by others.
What is the difference between honor and dignity as it is understood in contemporary culture?
Page 46
In our culture, dignity is an equality available to everyone. For example, everyone is given the sir-name “Mrs.” or “Mr.” in our democratic culture. Honor, however, is linked to inequalities, which still can make sense in our contemporary world. To receive honors, such as an award, is only significant if not everyone receives it.
How does instrumental rationality fortify this atomism?
Mobility results in more casual, impersonal contact (think of the people that you depend on for services but about whom you know very little), which lessens our connections to others. But, more specifically, instrumental reason develops atomism when we consider others as means toward our ends. Remember President Kennedy’s injunction, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Taylor maintains that we primarily ask the former question, and this is the connection between atomism and instrumental reason. Our relationships are weakened, and we are isolated, when we consider only the benefits that our relationships and communities may provide for us (58-59).
What are the two “slides” to subjectivism to which Taylor refers?
Taylor addresses these slides mainly in terms of their cultural prevalence. One of them is the descent into self-centered forms of authenticity, where the focus is more on the development of the self and the discounting of one’s surroundings and potential values as instrumental in nature. But Taylor also addresses a high-culture variant that more directly targets and aims to deconstruct the values themselves, giving great power to the individual anyway. Regardless of the travelers or the route taken, the destination is the same. Personal development is seen to be entirely grounded in the self, without reference to external values, roles, or guidelines (60).
What is the relationship between “authenticity” and “originality”?
Refer back to Herder (28-29). He said that we each have our own way of being human, and that we miss out if we don’t discover and live in our unique ways. Not only do we have to determine what our way of living is to be, in order to be authentic, but we also, if we agree with Herder’s view, develop a unique way of living in the process of being authentic, making our lives original. In addition, Taylor uses a nice aesthetic parallel here: a while ago, we went from imitating what we saw (mimēsis) to creating something new that didn’t resemble what we perceived (poiēsis), and now we do this with our identities by creating something other than what society would, if allowed to work its will, decide that we are to be (61-62).
What are the component dimensions of authenticity which Taylor names (A) and (B)?
(A) consists of “creation and construction as well as discovery, […] originality, and frequently […] opposition to the rules of society and even potentially to what we recognize as morality” (66). These are the aspects of authenticity that we haven’t lost. Taylor thinks that authenticity also requires “openness to horizons of significance […] and […] a self-definition in dialogue.” Taylor maintains that we generally lose sight of these things, and he has just established why they are necessary for us to live authentically.
Why must one not privilege (A) over (B) or vice versa?
Remember, (A) and (B) are on page 66. (B) acts mainly as restraint and background for (A). (B) without (A)’s influence was present in society for a long time, with (A) only developing recently as the major constituent parts of authenticity. In a sense, (B)’s focus on external aspects of identity, like values and dialogue, is Taylor’s reconciliation of the externally derived roles and identities that our ancestors had with the freer aspects from (A), like originality and discovery. So while omitting (B) results in anthropocentrism, atomism, and Taylor’s other evils, omitting (A) and retaining (B) is more difficult when Taylor phrases (B) thus. We would more likely omit the crossover between (A) and (B), giving us only the societal definitions and constraints and, according to Herder, missing out on what our lives may become.
Why are intimate personal (or “love”) relationships seen as the “crucibles of inwardly generated identity”?
Page 49
Our identity has a strong reliance on our relationships with others. We are vulnerable to the recognition and judgments given to us by our significant others, which makes relationships the key to our own self-discovery and especially our self-confirmation. Demeaning remarks are detrimental to our conceptions of identity.
Why can’t mere difference itself be the ground of equal value?
Page 51
Taylor refers to his previous argument that just the fact that people choose different things does not make those choices equal. This is also true when two people find themselves different because of race, sex, or culture, these difference are not equal. There has to be a value to these identities that can be used to justify the difference. One can’t just say that though someone is different, he or she can now be equal.
Why must there be substantive agreement on value so that the formal principle of equality does not become empty and a “sham”?
Page 52
We cannot just simply say that two different people are equal, or else our words are empty. We must agree on standards of value, such as the capacity to reason, memory, love, or dialogical recognition. We can only understand equality if we actually share something that we agree has value.
What is social atomism?
Page 58
When we see atomism one should think of isolation into the smallest form possible or basically radical individualism. Social atomism sees fulfillment as just the self, without consideration of demands that come from beyond our own desires and aspirations. These demands come from beyond us, and can come from history, tradition, society, nature, or God.
How is social atomism related to radical anthropocentrism?
Bottom of Page 58 –Page 59
Social atomism causes us to center on ourselves, and overlook the demands of the world around us; demands that come form history, tradition, society, nature, or God. When we center on our selves we become mobile, traveling around the country or the world in search of employment. This mobility means that we no longer form strong bonds with those around us, like neighbors or co-workers, but instead make more impersonal and casual contact, for example, Facebook.
Why did "recognition" never arise as a problem in earlier ages?
Page 47
In earlier ages, before the emergence of the ideal of authenticity, identity was moreso fixed with social position. The background that made sense of what a person recognized was mostly determined by his or her role in society.